Public Libraries

Department for Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 15th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Chesterton Lord Hunt of Chesterton Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth on 24 October (HL2163), what assessment they have made of the case for intervening under sections 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 in order to ensure that local authorities are discharging their function and meeting their statutory obligations to provide library services to the public.

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

The Secretary of State can request an inspection under section 10 and intervene under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 where there is robust evidence that an authority is failing to comply with the best value duty. To date, the Government has taken the view that failures need to be very serious (and not narrowly focused on one single function) to warrant removing control from an independent council, which is run by locally elected representatives.

For a single function such as library services, the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 provides the Secretary of State with a statutory power to intervene by calling a local enquiry when a library authority fails, or is suspected of failing, to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

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